Mexican Macaroni Salad

Our Mexican Macaroni Salad recipe is a favorite creamy pasta salad because it’s full of flavor. It’s ideal as a main dish, makes a perfect side dish or a great addition to a potluck.

a big bowl of food with a spoon, with mexican macaroni salad

Ensalada de Coditos (Mexican Macaroni Salad), is one of the first Mexican recipes I ever made. I became a fan while travelling, and took that comforting taste home.

I slightly adapted an authentic version to create one that’s similar in taste yet with some shortcuts for convenience.

This mexican pasta salad recipe takes minimal effort and has a unique flavour combination that will impresses every time.

Next time you need a cold pasta salad recipe that is light and refreshing, yet robust with the best flavours – this recipe is for you. Especially if you are a fan of mexican flavors.

This mexican-inspired pasta salad makes a great side dish, and is a crowd pleaser at pot lucks. Sometimes I make a large bath so we can enjoy leftovers and easy lunches all week long.

This great recipe makes a great summer salad. Yet our Mexican Macaroni Salad just may become your next favorite pasta salad to make all year long.

a bowl of food with a spoon, with macaroni salad

Key Ingredients

  • Pasta – While I use elbow macaroni most often for this recipe, feel free to use any short pasta that hold it’s shape well. You can also use gluten-free pasta.
  • Vegetables – for flavor and colour; I like to use red beans, shallots, green onion, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, and fresh corn (or canned or frozen corn).
  • Sour Cream – This is for the creamy dressing.
  • Salsa – I use my favourite jarred variety, yet use a homemade version if you’d like.
  • Spices – chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper are the spices I use.
ingredients on a table, with pasta

How to Make Mexican Pasta Salad

Here are the following ingredients and easy steps to make this pasta salad. As always the full recipe is on the printable recipe card at the end of the post.

If you haven’t done so already, cook the pasta according to package directions. You want to use al dente pasta for this recipe.

food in a bowl on a table, with pasta, vegetables, sour cream and salsa

Once cooked, rinse the pasta under cold water to stop cooking and remove starch, and drain pasta.

If you haven’t already done so, also wash and prepare all your vegetables.

Handy tip: Time Saver!

I’m all about multitasking. Cook the small pasta and prepare the vegetables at the same time! This recipe will come together in under 30 minutes if you chop all the vegetables while the pasta is cooking.

Add the cooked macaroni and all the vegetables into a large bowl, and mix well with a wooden spoon to combine.

Then add the lime juice, sour cream and salsa – and mix again. Add the spices and mix until all combined.

food in four bowls, with creamy pasta salad

Can you Make this Ahead of Time?

Yes! In fact, it’s recommended. While you can serve this salad and simple recipe immediately after making, it’s not recommended.

I suggest allowing the salad to sit in the fridge for at least 1 hour (to overnight), to develop the flavors and creamy textures even more. Make this recipe a few hours ahead of time, and it’s even better the next day.

two bowls of food on a table, with mexican macaroni salad and limes

Recipe Substitutions

  • Fresh Cilantro – Yes, I know some have a strong aversion to cilantro. You can omit if necessary.
  • Jalapeños – Add some fresh jalapeños for a touch of heat, or just serve some on the side for those that wish to add it.
  • Corn – You can use canned or frozen sweet corn kernels for this recipe, just make sure it’s drained and thawed first. Omit if you’d like, or use grilled corn for a truly amazing taste.
  • Beans – Swap the red for black beans, or simply omit if preferred.
  • Shallots – You can swap for 1 small red onion along with the green onions
  • Sour Cream – Swap with 1 cup Greek yogurt instead. You can also use mexican sour cream.
  • Add Ham  You can use sliced deli style ham or use leftover ham if you’d like.
  • Vegetables Options – try carrots, creamy avocados, peas (fresh, frozen or canned), or celery. This salad is very flexible; make it with a variety of vegetables to keep things interesting.
a big bowl of food with a spoon, with mexican macaroni salad

Tips For The Best Pasta Salad


  • Make sure to cook the pasta el dente. It’ll soak up the dressing as it sits in the fridge and become softer, so you don’t want the end result to be mushy.
  • If swapping elbow macaroni for another type of pasta, any short pasta will do. One that ‘grabs’ is best, so try penne, farfalle, or rotini
  • Since the pasta soaks in moisture as it sits, you might need to dress twice before serving. Add more sour cream, greek yogurt or even some jalapeno juice if needed.

What to Serve with this Recipe

While this salad could be a main course, it’s most commonly used as a side dish or addition to a potluck or picnic. In this case, dishes to that pair beautifully include:

For a dessert try our Strawberry Fluff Salad, Air Fryer Churro Bites or these Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies

bowl of food on a table, with mexican macaroni salad

Storage

Place leftovers in an airtight container or cover with plastic wrap, for maximum freshness. Refrigerate for up to 4 days. Do not freeze as the texture changes, and the vegetables become soggy.

a big bowl of food with a spoon, with mexican macaroni salad

Mexican Macaroni Salad

Yield: 1
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Mexican Macaroni Salad is a favorite creamy pasta salad because it's full of flavor. It's ideal as a main dish, makes a perfect side dish or a great addition to a potluck.

Ingredients

  • 6 cups cooked macaroni pasta
  • 1 can (15.5 oz) red beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • 1 orange bell pepper, diced
  • 2 roma tomatoes diced
  • 1 cup of corn, fresh or frozen
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Juice of 1 lime (about 2 tablespoons)
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Cook the pasta according to the packaging instructions. Once cooked, rinse the pasta under cold water and drain.
  2. Wash and prepare all your vegetables.
  3. Add the pasta and all the vegetables into a large salad bowl, and mix well to combine.
  4. Add the lime juice, sour cream and salsa - and mix again.
  5. Add the spices and mix until all combined.
  6. You can serve immediately yet I suggest allowing the salad to sit in the fridge for at least 1 hour, to develop the flavor even more. 

      Notes

    1. Cook your pasta al dente for a better result 
    2. This salad can be made hours ahead or the night before.
    3. Refrigerate leftovers for up to 4 days
    4. For an authentic Ensalada de Coditos, add chopped ham
    5. Nutrition Information:
      Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1
      Amount Per Serving: Calories: 219Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 14mgSodium: 228mgCarbohydrates: 37gFiber: 4gSugar: 6gProtein: 7g

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      bowl of food, with mexican pasta salad

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